Embark on an adventure-filled family vacation in Alaska, where you can explore the vast wilderness, encounter unique wildlife, and immerse yourselves in vibrant native cultures. The kids will love these land, sea, and air to explore the magnificent state!
ALASKA BY LAND
It looks deceiving on a map or globe, but Alaska is twice the size of Texas, making up a lot of land to cover. Here are some Alaska adventures on land.
Tour Denali National Park
This national park covers 6 million acres and is home to the tallest mountain peak in North America, Denali. Your family can explore its sub-artic ecosystem full of Dall sheep, wolves, caribou, moose, and grizzly bear.
There’s only one road into the park, and past Mile 15, you can only travel on a park-approved bus. So, the best way to see the park is a guided tour. The National Park Service offers two types of bus tours of the park.
If your family is outdoorsy, consider hiking, cycling, or camping. You can also explore the park’s backcountry on Jeep or ATV tours.
Pan for Gold
Gold mining is a significant part of Alaska’s history and is still part of its culture today. Recreational gold panning tours are offered in many locations across the state, like Juneau, Alaska’s capital city (named after a gold prospector), and Fairbanks, where your family can pan for gold and connect with families who continue to mine for gold today.
Go Dog Sledding
The kids will always remember an exhilarating dog sledding tour. Your family can experience this year-round via a wheeled cart in the summer or in the snow in winter. Several locations around the state offer these adventures led by official mushers; some even include time to play with the adorable puppies.
Visit Alaska Native Heritage Center
At the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, kids can engage in interactive cultural presentations, participate in craft demonstrations, play traditional games, explore replica dwellings and totem poles, and learn about the rich heritage of Alaska's Indigenous peoples in a fun and educational way.
Just outside of Anchorage, you can also visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which provides a home for orphaned and injured animals. It's an excellent place for kids to see Alaskan wildlife up close.
Ride the Alaska Railroad
A great way to explore the state is via the Alaska Railroad. The entire line stretches 470 miles from Seward in the south to Fairbanks in the north, with several scheduled stops, like Anchorage and Denali National Park. Onboard are knowledgeable tour guides that narrate the trip with stories about Alaska’s history, point out animals, and you can take in the fantastic views from the second-level outdoor viewing platform.
ALASKA BY SEA
Alaska’s coastline is longer than all the other U.S. states combined, so your vacation should include an adventure by sea.
Cruise to Alaska
Many families enjoy cruises to and around Alaska. Sail from Seattle or Vancouver or even board a cruise ship in Alaska. Then from your ship home base, you can enjoy incredible views of scenery and glaciers and go on land for more adventures.
Boat Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
This is the largest National Park in the United States, covering 13 million acres, and has the nation’s largest glacial system, including Hubbard Glacier, North America’s largest tidewater glacier. Spend the day cruising this massive river of ice and wonderful wildlife.
Kayak Kenai Fjords National Park
Located in Seward, this National Park is home to fjords, marine wildlife, icebergs, and crystal-blue waters. A guided kayak tour is one of the easiest ways to explore the shores. Your family can spend the day paddling between bobbing bits of glacial ice in Resurrection Bay and get up views of wildlife like whales, eagles, and sea otters.
Ride a Riverboat
In Fairbanks, ride the Riverboat Discovery for a three-hour cruise down the Chena and Tanana Rivers. You’ll see incredible views of the Alaskan wilderness while hearing stories from expert guides. It takes you into the heart of Alaska and introduces you to a family who has made the rivers of Alaska their way of life for five generations.
Alaska is famous for its salmon, halibut, and crab fishing. With over 800 marked fishing spots in the state, there’s something for every level of fisher in your family, from first-timer to pros. Alaska also has world-class fishing lodges where you can stay and immerse yourself in the sport.
Experience Glacier Canoeing
At the 12-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier, families can engage in various activities such as hiking to picturesque viewpoints, canoeing on iceberg-filled lakes, taking guided tours, and exploring the visitor center to learn about the glacier's formation and natural surroundings.
Take the Ferry
The ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway are a great way to explore the state. The ferries comprise a large part of Alaska's highway system, covering 3,500 miles of coastline and providing service to over 30 communities.
ALASKA BY AIR
Taking to the air is not only a great way to see the state, but it’s also the only way to get to many destinations.
Flightseeing by plane or seaplane is an incredible way to see the expansive state. You can soar above Denali or get a birds-eye view of Alaska glaciers. Some tours include glacier landings and exploring.
See the Brown Bears Catch Salmon
Fly to Katmai National Park and Preserve to see the highest concentration of bears in the world. You can see them in their natural habitat and watch them catch Sockeye Salmon in Brook Falls. You can even stay at Brooks Lodge for more bear viewing and do your own fishing.
Board the Alyeska Aerial Tram
The Alyeska Resort’s Aerial Tram in Girdwood delivers Alaska's best panoramic views in only seven minutes. From the base of Mount Alyeska, you'll ascend 2,300 feet up to the mountaintop observation deck for views of mountains, glaciers, sparkling waters, and wildlife.
You can also paraglide from here, among other sports like skiing and hiking.
Fly to Juneau
Juneau is the only state capital in the United States that can only be reached by airplane or boat. It’s popular for whale-watching experiences that run from April to September. Gray whales typically return in mid-April, followed by orcas in May and humpback whales in June.
With so many diverse options, your whole family will love an Alaska vacation.
Alaska Adventure Awaits!